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New Orleans Saints early favorites to win third straight NFC South title

Let’s hope they can live up to the hype.

NFL: NFC Championship Game-Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With the first round of NFL free agency in the books, Sports Book USA has published early their initial division odds for the 2019 NFL season. In the NFC South, it is your New Orleans Saints given the best odds to win the division at 4/11.

Since the creation of the NFC South before the 2002 season, no team has won the division three years in a row. For the Saints to do so in 2019, after having won the division in 2017 and 2018, would be no small feat. As much grief as Saints’ fans enjoy giving the Atlanta Falcons, the Georgia Dirty Birds are no slouch, having made it to the Super Bowl just two years ago. The year before that, it was the Carolina Panthers who represented the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Speaking of the Falcons and Panthers, those two teams (in that order) are directly behind the Saints according to early odds. The Falcons currently sit at 5/1, and the Panthers are at 6/1 to win the division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are long shots at 12/1. The order of odds in the order of finish for each of the four South teams from the 2018 season.

In fact, most of the 2019 odds follow the 2018 season’s results. Only three division winners from 2018 are not currently projected to win their division (the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, and Baltimore Ravens). The team with the biggest leap from last year is - not surprisingly - the Cleveland Browns, who have had an active free agency, grabbing Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sheldon Richardson. As it stands now, the Browns are projected to win the AFC North, with last year’s winner, the Baltimore Ravens, finishing third behind the always-dangerous Pittsburgh Steelers.